Yazidi teenagers in Australia demand freedom for women captured by IS

Yazidis from Wagga Wagga have held a rally outside Parliament House calling on Australia and the international community not to forget their plight.

Yazidi teenagers Maryam Sloman and Yvette Hasan speaking outside Australia's Parliament House in Canberra.

Yazidi teenagers Maryam Sloman and Yvette Hasan speaking outside Australia's Parliament House in Canberra. Source: SBS News

Yvette Hasan’s voice trembles as she talks about her fears for the Yazidi people.

The 15-year old is from Iraq and has been in Australia for three years.

She is part of a group of 100 Yazidis who travelled from Wagga Wagga to draw attention to the plight of the Yazidi people in a rally outside Parliament House.

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She says IS forces have taken up to 3,000 Yazidi women captive and fears many are still being held.

Ms Hasan said this includes her grandmother, who she has not spoken to in five years.

“Until now we don’t know anything about my grandmother. She said that ISIS moved her to Syria,” she said.

“ISIS killed and tortured all Yazidi men and women. Most of our friends, relatives and families died.”

Yazidi teenagers Maryam Sloman (left) and Yvette Hasan (right) speaking outside Australia's Parliament House in Canberra.
Yazidi teenagers Maryam Sloman (left) and Yvette Hasan (right) speaking outside Australia's Parliament House in Canberra. Source: SBS News


Islamic State militants launched an offensive on Yazidi homelands in northern Iraq in August 2014.

This included targeting the large Yazidi community in Sinjar, that IS captured in the assault.

According to Amnesty International. the militants killed hundreds of men and abducted thousands of women, girls and boys from the Yazidi minority.



Susan Hutchinson, a specialist in conflict and development at ANU, said fears for those still being held captive are real.

“Boys were forced to convert and become child soldiers, and thousands more women and girls were kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery,” she recently wrote in a piece for SBS’s Dateline 

“The likely fate of the remaining 3000 women held captive by IS, is lifetime servitude in the sex slave market,” Ms Hutchinson said.



The Yazidi rally outside Parliament House, Canberra, Australia.
The Yazidi rally outside Parliament House, Canberra, Australia. Source: SBS News


Ms Hasan, along with other Yazidi community members, called on the Australian government and international community to continue to fight for the freedom of those captured.

 “ISIS tortured the Yazidi people and they are still torturing them,” she said.

“We plead that the Australian government and humanitarian organizations in Australia do something for the Yazidi people,” she said.

In a unified voice, the rally goers outside Parliament House delivered their message chanting "stop, stop ISIS."

Since 2014, thousands of Yazidis have made their home in Australia under the humanitarian migration program, according to ANU's Ms Hutchinson.

Australia took in Yazidi families as part of 12,000 refugees the Abbot government committee as a result of the conflict in Syria and Iraq.

Yazidis rally outside Parliament House, Canberra, Australia.
Yazidis rally outside Parliament House, Canberra, Australia. Source: SBS News


According to Amnesty International, Yazidis have been persecuted as part of IS’s “brutal targeting” of ethnic and religious minorities.

The human rights group said Yazidi women and girls have been left with “harrowing physical and psychological” trauma because of “horrifying sexual violence” and enslavement by the armed group.

Yazidis follow their own religion called Yazidism. A religion that incorporates aspects of Islam, Christianity but also has unique elements.



Recently a mass grave was uncovered in the Eastern Syrian town of Baghuz that included 50 decapitated heads of Yazidi women. The bodies were uncovered as US-backed Syrian Democratic Front forces launched an assault on the Islamic State’s last stronghold in Syria.

Maryam Solam speaks outside Parliament House, Canberra, Australia.
Maryam Solam speaks outside Parliament House, Canberra, Australia. Source: SBS News


Maryam Solam is a 17-year old from Iraq, who also spoke at the rally.

She said the case of 50 beheading was just the latest example of atrocities against the Yazidi people.

“People who are still with ISIS wish to get out of IS hands or they wish to die which is better than being with them,” she said.

The Yazidi supporters called for an investigation into that massacre and support for those who are displaced and being held captive.

Yazidi supporters campaign outside Parliament House, Canberra.
Yazidi supporters campaign outside Parliament House, Canberra. Source: SBS News


Ms Solam said many Yazidi people are still living in refugees camps.

“They are children in camps who lost their parents," she said.

"There are kids who are waiting for their parents to come back from ISIS and there are children who wish to go to school and make their dream true.”

Ms Solam said the Yazidi community in Australia is grateful for the support the Australian government has provided them but says this must continue.

“We cannot stop ISIS by ourselves, we need so much help from you Australia and from every country.”

“We need to support each other to make the end of the war together and stop ISIS from doing these disgusting things.”

Yazidi Rashid Shani Baqi said the remaining women and children being held must be rescued.

“They are still using them for sexual violence,” he said.

“We call on the international community to do a serious act immediately to rescue those women and children from captivity”.

Yazidi supporters rally outside Parliament House, Canberra, Australia.
Yazidi supporters rally outside Parliament House, Canberra, Australia. Source: SBS News



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5 min read
Published 21 March 2019 at 4:23pm
By Tom Stayner

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